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It is truly an amazing site: monstrous US hotels and casinos, just few hundred meters from the Mainland China. All that kitsch that one usually associates with Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but bigger, much bigger! In fact, Macau is the biggest casino sprawl in the world.
Casinos, most of them confined inside the US mega-hotels, make approximately 5 times more money here, than in Las Vegas.
You want Venetian; a tremendous mind-blowing temple of bad taste, complete with a fake San Marco Square, canals, gondolas (gondoliers don't sing O Sole Mio, thank God, as they are mostly from Portugal) and overcooked pasta - it is all here; one of the largest buildings on earth, and the biggest casino in the universe!
You want Parisian; yet another vulgar monstrosity, complete with a fake Eiffel Tower which lightens up right after dark to the great delight of the armies of selfie-takers? It is also here, in Cotai, Macau, together with the fake Champ de Mars that doubles as an (phony again) ice-skating rink.
Macau is tiny, measuring only some 115 km square. But with around 650,000 people, it is one of the most over-populated places in the world. There is no space to move around here, anymore. Macau is a total, thorough urban nightmare and failure, propelled and 'justified' only by greed. But its plans are still Napoleonic. The territory wants more and more. Or more precisely: the Macau government, together with big business from the West, want more and more visitors, more and more casinos, luxury retail stores, and of course, profits.
24 hours a day, 365 days a week, Macau sucks in like a monstrous turbine, millions, in fact billions of dollars, yuan or whatever currency manages to enter its territory. It attracts like a magnet, masses of people from the PRC, who are often still naïve, innocent and defenseless when confronted by brutal and extreme forms of capitalism and its advertisements.
In January 2019, I visited several casinos in Macau, and not surprisingly, there are very few traditional roulette tables there, but masses of electronically controlled machines. Everything is noisy, confusing and lacking transparency. Western casinos treat Chinese people like some brainless children. At least the classic roulette mainly wins (for casino) on 'neutral' 0 (zero), giving a gambler very fair chance. But electronic, futuristic machines are a sham, and can 'strip' an unseasoned gambler of everything, in just a few hours, even minutes. But that is, obviously, precisely the goal.
I am horrified to see hordes of good Chinese (PRC) citizens who work hard, building their beautiful country, and then crossing to that fake universe of Macau, where they are literally blowing their savings in spasmodic, insane sprees.
On 23 January, 2019, CNN reported from Hong Kong:
Chinese authorities say they have busted an underground money-smuggling ring used to launder more than $4.4 billion through the Asian gambling hub of Macau.
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